Andràs Kubinyi

ICHT member (Hungary), 1986-1998

ICHT Honorary Member, 1999-2007

Budapest 1929 – 2007 Budapest



András  Kubinyi,  honorary  member  of  the  International  Commission  for  the  History  of  Towns  passed  away  in  November  2007.  His  sudden  death  is  a  great  loss both to Hungarian and international academic life in general, and to research into urban history in particular.

He was born in a noble family which gave several outstanding intellectuals to Hungarian academic life, and which could trace back its origins to the fifteenth century  –  not  necessarily  an  advantage  in  the  Hungary  of  the  1950s,  when  he  started  his  career.  He  completed  his  studies  of  history,  Latin  philology  and  archives  studies  at  the  Péter  Pázmány  (later:  Loránd  Eötvös)  University  of  Budapest  in  1952.  After  two  years  in  the  Archives  of  Miskolc,  he  was  invited  to  work  at  the  Budapest  History  Museum,  as  part  of  a  team  that  prepared  and  wrote  a  new  five-volume  History  of  Budapest  (published  in  1973).  In  1969  he  was  appointed  Head  of  the  Medieval  Department  of  the  Museum.  This  job  determined  his  future  work  in  at  least  two  ways.  Through  the  commission  to  write a new history of Buda, Pest and Óbuda (united as Budapest in 1873) in the Middle  Ages,  he  got  engaged  with  urban  history;  whereas  by  leading  a  department whose main activity comprised excavation and working with the finds recovered, he becamean expert of medieval archaeology. His experience as a researcher and museum-person had a great impact on his teaching activity as well. He taught as part-time faculty member at the Eötvös University already from 1963, but it was especially from 1978, when he was invited to the Department of Archaeology, that he introduced a new line of teaching: that of medieval archaeology. In 1988 when he was appointed professor, he founded a separate Department of Medieval and Post-medieval Archaeology. He laid special emphasis on teaching his subject as a historical discipline: introducing his students to the study of written sources and auxiliary sciences (epigraphy, heraldry, numismatics, etc.) was just as important as the teaching of “archaeology proper”.

His expertise extended to several fields, including but not limited to the history of institutions and political life in fifteenth- and early sixteenth-century Hungary; the royal court and courtly culture; the history of everyday life from the peasantry to the high nobility; to demography and economic history; but his strongest contribution was undoubtedly to urban history. Beside contributing to the monographs of several towns, he discussed general questions of ecclesiastical life, economic development and social structure of medieval Hungarian towns in more than 100 studies, about half of them in German. His greatest achievement was perhaps to apply a complex set of criteria based on central place theory to establish a hierarchy within the settlement network of late medieval Hungary. He was a regular and eager participant of international conferences from the late 1960s onwards, especially those of the Südwestdeutscher Arbeitskreis and the Österreichischer Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung. He was elected member of our Commission in 1978 and participated actively in its work until his retirement as an honorary member in 2002. He edited the Hungarian volume of the Elenchus fontium historiae urbanae (Budapest, 1997), and headed until his death the research group for the Historical Atlas of Hungarian Towns. Beside several other official awards, he was honoured with the Pro civitate AustriaePrice in 1992 and was elected member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2001.

He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered.

Katalin Szende